Market Overview

Tiger Woods Tops Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Power 100 Ranking of the Most Powerful Athletes in Sports


Tiger Woods, LeBron James, and Phil Mickelson top the Bloomberg BusinessWeek 2010 Power 100 ranking of the most powerful athletes in sports. To determine who the 100 most powerful athletes are on- and off-the-field, Bloomberg BusinessWeek teamed with CSE, formerly known as Career Sports & Entertainment, an integrated sports and entertainment company that connects brands with fans, as well as host of The $ports Take and columnist Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek, both of Horrow Sports Ventures and co-authors of the soon-to-be-released book, Beyond the Box Score, to create the 2010 version of the Power 100.

Power in athletics is usually thought of as bulging muscles and dominating performance. But in sports today power has a different meaning as well: the earning potential for athletes, owners, agents, communities, and of brands ranging from breakfast cereal to beer. Because there is so much money at stake the question for general managers and brand managers alike is, which athlete? There are dozens of potential candidates every year, some up-and-coming rookies, some fan favorites and others bona fide superstars. Which player will guarantee the best chance for winning? Will they behave themselves off the field? Can I trust them to give 100%? The ability to choose the right athlete is the difference between millions of dollars and a metaphorical cleat in the face.

This year’s winner and the world’s most powerful athlete, is, unsurprisingly if a little controversially, Tiger Woods. That’s because, at least as of Thanksgiving 2009, the man dominated his sport, and by extension the endorsement business, like few others in history. The 34-year-old golfer smashed records on the course and inked deals with companies ranging from Accenture and American Express to Nike and Gillette that totaled $92 million in 2009. Indeed, even before his fall Woods was expected to be the first athlete to have made more than $1 billion in career earnings.

Based on CSE’s data, Woods’ Power 100 ranking would have ranked No. 1 even if the rumors of his infidelity had surfaced earlier last year. The question remains whether he will continue to hold the top spot now that some of his sponsors have withdrawn their support and he has taken an indefinite leave from the sport. Already data since late November indicates that his popularity and hard-won trustworthiness have suffered. What became a gossip journalist’s dream is a sports marketing nightmare.

David Newman, Vice President of Analytics for CSE, said, “CSE’s approach to measuring athletes is unique because we aggregate data from a wide array of sources, both psychographic and endemic to the sport, which results in a fact-based, customizable solution which can be applied to any brand, company or sponsorship.”

“The BusinessWeek Sports Power 100 rankings are based on a blended mix of athletes’ ’On-Field‘ and ’Off-Field‘ performance to determine which athletes are making the greatest holistic impact in the world of sports,” says Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Charles Dubow, who edited the Power 100 Special Report. On-Field scoring is determined by statistically ranking each athlete within their peer group, typically by sport, over a two year period. For each sport, key performance metrics are used such as points scored, money earned, laps lead, and tournament cuts made just to name a few. This ranking is then adjusted by the overall popularity of the sport itself based on an index of fan avidity and TV viewership. The Off-Field metric was broken into five components: in addition to total endorsement income, CSE used public opinion polls to analyze and evaluate the athlete’s awareness, trustworthiness, appeal and influence to calculate power off the playing field. Bloomberg BusinessWeek then worked with CSE to weigh and measure those factors and then combined them to come up with a total Power Score. This data was compiled by E-Poll Market Research, a leading provider of custom research services and products for entertainment and media companies, using their E-Score® Celebrity database.

“We thought that the industry should have the benefit of the most practical methodology applied in the most realistic circumstances," says Horrow. "As there have been numerous attempts to ’quantify‘ athlete influence and power, the analytics developed by CSE have produced a practical, proven methodology applied initially to on-field performers. This is a significant analytic breakthrough that could be applied to all aspects of the industry as they measure ’power‘ in the coming years: executives, owners, college officials, international performers, athletes/entertainers, and others can be analyzed over time. It is a very quantitative way to measure ‘power’ and influence."

The Power 100 special report is available on at

The 2010 Power 100

Top 20

Rank Name Sport
1 Tiger Woods Golf
2 LeBron James Basketball
3 Phil Mickelson Golf
4 Albert Pujols Baseball
5 Peyton Manning Football
6 Dwyane Wade Basketball
7 Michael Phelps Olympics / Endurance
8 Adrian Peterson Football
9 Shaquille O’Neal Basketball
10 Lance Armstrong Olympics / Endurance
11 Rafael Nadal Tennis
12 Kobe Bryant Basketball
13 Larry Fitzgerald Football
14 Ryan Howard Baseball
15 Brett Favre Football
16 Serena Williams Tennis
17 Roger Federer Tennis
18 Eli Manning Football
19 Joe Mauer Baseball
20 Tim Duncan Basketball

Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Patti Straus, 212-512-2680
Heather Carpenter, 212-512-2854

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